I just read again Martha’s article, “Creation by Separation,” and I was struck by an insight God gave her on Adam and Eve:
“His companion was only a companion because she was separate. Not in him. Nor like him. His loneliness was filled by her individuality, by her otherness, not her sameness. Unity only follows separateness.”
That strikes me as the exact opposite approach of common humanity. We are ever searching for “common ground” or “things we have in common” with everyone we meet. That’s the usual basis for friendship of any kind. And if we don’t find it, well, up goes the wall and out come the claws. Most of us don’t take risks when it comes to meeting people.
Yet here we have Adam and Eve, not just the world’s first human romance, but also the world’s first human friends. The original “alone on a desert island” scenario played out over the entire planet. Two companions who were different, not the same – and that was God’s design.
It’s funny, but one of the most rewarding and surprising and delightful friendships I ever had was with a woman whose life could NOT have been farther from my purview. When I was 26, I met M – a 63 year-old black woman who grew up in West Virginia’s coal country during the ‘40s and ‘50s. The only things we had in common were working at the same company and a smoking habit. After two smoke breaks, I knew that M was a kindred spirit, and she told me I was too. We were friends until she died three years later, and I hope that we will meet again.
I never did “understand” M’s life experience, nor did I have a clue about what it was to walk in her shoes. I didn’t need to, and only ludicrous pride would say that such a thing was even possible. We laughed until it hurt and scandalized our co-workers (I called her Miss Daisy and she called me Hoke because I always drove her to lunch). We accepted each other as and where we were, and we appreciated each other’s life story.
I wonder now if God’s grace didn’t descend on M and I that day in order to show me the rewards of taking a risk with people. I would have missed a great joy if I had assumed that there was no point in talking to M because we had nothing in common. That dear friendship stands in the balance of my fear and complacency and says, “Jump!” Following God into the unknown can be frightening, but He is so faithful to give gifts of encouragement. M’s friendship was a gift from God that is still blessing me a decade later.
Our Father rewards every leap of faith, every risk we take in following Him. Even when that journey consists simply of saying “hello” to someone outside our comfort zone.